Microsoft has introduced a new controller that looks nothing like standard video game controllers. Reuters/Saumya Khandelwal

Microsoft’s new gaming console controller does not look like the previous Xbox One controller. Heck, it does not even look like any other video game controllers out on the market. But there’s a good explanation why Microsoft designed its Adaptive Controller the way it looks now.

Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller is targeted at a market comprising people with disabilities. People who can’t use the regular Xbox One controller for reasons pertaining to their physical limitations will find Microsoft’s new controller the perfect peripheral for their gaming sessions.

The motivation that drove Microsoft and partner AbleGamers to come up with the Adaptive Controller has to do with the demand for a peripheral that offers the right user experience at a price point that’s not going to break the bank. This is what Head of Xbox Phil Spencer explained in a press release earlier this week.

“For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create,” Spencer wrote on Xbox Wire. “A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.”

In designing the Adaptive Controller, Microsoft did not just consult with occupational therapists and organizations like AbleGamers and SpecialEffect. The company collaborated and brought in gamers with disabilities during the development process — marking Microsoft’s first time to involve the gaming community in the creation of a new hardware.

Microsoft built a lab at its Redmond campus to accommodate the participants and experts who were testing the prototypes of the Adaptive Controller. The lab was specifically designed to cater to people with disabilities, so it featured desks that can be adjusted for people using wheelchairs, lighting that can be customized for people with visual sensitivities and other devices that can be used by those who have other forms of disabilities.

Microsoft’s accessibility program manager for Xbox, Evelyn Thomas, explained that the company came up with the lab because it was serious in involving the gaming community in the development of the new controller. “We want people to intentionally include disabled gamers in our products,” Thomas told Eurogamer.

Adaptive Controller
Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller Xbox Wire

The key word in Microsoft’s new Xbox One controller is “adaptive.” It was named as such because it was never intended to have a single setup or be a one-size-fits-all solution. Hence, the Adaptive Controller is more of a platform than just a single product. It comes with a range of ports for third-party peripherals to allow people with various disabilities to create a setup that would fit their needs, as per Forbes.

Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller is arriving later this year for $99.99.